Mary Susan Chapman Dalton. That was her name! At Camp Allegheny in West Virginia "Susan" attended summer camp in 1954 and 1955. She was born July 29,1941 to Dr. and Mrs. Charles Chapman and they resided in Welch, WV. At camp she was known as "Chappie", a fun and energetic teenager who apparently loved canoeing on the Greenbrier River. It appears that her father ordered her this wood-canvas canoe to have it delivered by Christmas in 1954. He even had her name painted on the bow!
I tried last week to find Susan. I learned from the Welch High School website that she has died. Her obituary from Apache Junction, AZ., indicates that she died on November 12, 2007. I had to compose myself. See, I wanted to find Susan and have her take me for a ride in her canoe. I found one of her children (Emily Pike). She lives in Lexington. I hope to have Emily or one of her children to ride in Susan's canoe soon!
On the Camp Allegheny website, you can click on their history section and look over photographs that were taken from when the camp got its start back in 1922 to current photos. I wonder if Susan is in any of those black and white classic photos? I want to think so.
You see, a canoe is not just a boat. It is the thing which connects an individual to wilderness. Canoes seem to be a seemless connection which enables us to explore lakes and streams. I remember when I first began working on "Susan" - the canoe - the brass nails seemed to slide out of the hull as if they were helping me to put her back on the water. The longer you are in a canoe you become part of the canoe.
So, Susan Chapman Dalton, we paddle your canoe to feel your connection you once had with wild places. Your canoe which once gave you great pleasure is now bringing pleasure to others. Thank you for sharing!